Steamed bread


Hello foodies! It has been forever since I last blogged, and every time I cook or eat something yummy, I feel a pang of guilt in my stomach, and promise myself that I am going to start doing weekly posts again, and after months, which accidentally turned into a year of talking and no doing, here I go…

So much has happened since I last posted! I…got a new job in reproductive health, adopted two furry critters,

Giorgie

Jane

finished my Masters degree in Public Health

Kristen, Phumelele and I on Grad Day

and got engaged!

Engagement

The recipe I am going to share with you is Lulu’s Steamed bread. According to the interwebs, steamed bread is a traditional Zulu dish typically served with meat, although my experience tells me that steamed bread has become a commonplace in many’s homes. I first tried it when Lulu brought it to work freshly baked for a colleague’s birthday and I simply couldn’t stop eating it, despite being stuffed to the brim. It is so moist and has a subtle sweetness that I can never resist. So of course I got the recipe and immediately went home to make it. Despite Lulu accidentally giving me the wrong ratios due to that the recipe is so engrained in her food repertoire that she no longer needs to measure and also accidentally waterlogging my ball of dough in boiling water, my bread was ridiculously delicious. Luckily, my second time making steamed bread was easier and just as delicious. Steamed bread can be eaten with anything from curry, stew and mexican food, to only with a smidgy of butter, which Lulu and I did all week when we were away on a work trip.

Steamed bread (serves four + leftovers)

IMG_2340[1]IMG_2338[1]

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 tbl sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water

Directions

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together and then mix in the warm water
  2. Knead the dough (the dough should be slightly sticky-if it’s too sticky, add some more flour)
  3. Let the dough rise for about an hour
  4. Knead the dough some more
  5. Put the dough in a greased metal bowl
  6. Add about 5cm of water to a large pot that the metal bowl can fit into
  7. Gently place the bowl in the water (Don’t let the bowl touch the bottom of the pot; if it does, add a bit more water so that the bowl floats a little bit)
  8. Put on the lid
  9. Bring the water to a boil. Once the water starts to bowl, turn the heat down a bit so that the water maintains a lower, less hectic boil. Don’t keep the burner high enough for the water to bubble up into your dough bowl.
  10. Cook the bread for an hour. DO NOT open the pot lid until the hour is up.
  11. Carefully remove the bowl from the pot.
  12. Serve while still warm with anything!

 

 

 

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Beth’s perfect malva pudding


The first time I ever had malva pudding was in Colesberg, a tiny town in the Karoo, just about halfway between Johannesburg and Cape Town. When Ty moved down to Cape Town, he began driving home to Nelspruit for the Christmas holidays, and it became a tradition of his to spend a night in Colesberg on his journey back to Cape Town. When Ty realized I was worthy, he brought me to Nelspruit to meet the parents and eventually let his tradition of stopping in Colesberg on his way home, become ours.

The first time Ty took me to Colesberg, many years ago, we stayed at Gordon’s Cottage and ate dinner at Die Plattelander, which was where I had my first and incredible malva pudding experience. I distinctly remember sitting in the back of the restaurant at a corner table, reading the dessert menu (because I always have room for dessert, especially while on holiday) and asked Ty what malva pudding was. He was shocked and appalled that I had never had this traditional Afrikaans delicacy and immediately ordered us a slice. A dark brown piece of cake arrived slathered in yellow custard. I took my first bite and instantly fell in love with the moist, spongy, cream-soaked cake, with a hint of apricot, and compulsory yellow custard. It was unlike any dessert I had ever had and soooo good!

Over the years, Beth has mentioned her infamous secret malva pudding recipe that I unfortunately have not had the pleasure of tasting (from her kitchen) for some crazy reason! However, a few weeks ago she decided to let me into her inner circle and emailed me the special recipe, which I have been saving for the perfect occasion. This occasion arose last weekend, when we were invited to what turned out to be an Afrikaans foody night which included waterblommetjie bredie (a traditional South African stew with lamb, edible water flows, and potatoes) served with sides of pickled beets, apricots, and gherkins, delicious fresh-herb garlic bread, salad, rice with black-eyed peas, and malva pudding.

When I arrived with my giant dish of malva pudding but not a drop of custard, I was met with looks of despair, which left me feeling worried. How could I have  forgotten such a crucial ingredient!? However, I had faith in Beth’s recipe and new she wouldn’t let me down! Despite their apprehension, everyone politely got a slice, took a bite, and was shocked that the malva pudding was so incredibly delicious even without the customary custard. The level of sweetness and moisture was to perfection and we all concluded that the custard was entirely unnecessary. It was certainly bittersweet to see it disappear before my eyes, as people went back for seconds and thirds, so I look forward to another special occasion that calls upon Beth’s perfect malva pudding.

Beth’s perfect malva pudding

Ingredients (serves 8-10 gigantic slices, perfect for a dinner party)

For the cake

  • 4 tbl margarine/butter
  • 2 cups browns sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 tbl apricot jam
  • 2 tsp brown vinegar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
For the sauce
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
Directions
  1. preheat the oven to 180C
  2. in a large bowl, cream together the sugar and margarine
  3. mix in the eggs, jam and vinegar
  4. add the milk
  5. in a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients
  6. pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth
  7. pour the mixture into a deep dish pan
  8. bake in the oven for 1 hour
  9. when there is about 10 minutes to go, in a small pot, bring the water, sugar, and vanilla to a boil, turn the heat down, and stir in the cream
  10. when the hour is up, remove the cake from the oven, pour the sauce on top, and allow it to soak into the hot cake
  11. serve warm on its own (it’s that good) or with custard

Here is the Waterblommetjie Bredie recipe that was used for our delicious feast, straight from chef Sybrand and Adina’s kitchen.  Unfortunately we were so busy devouring our food that we forgot to take pictures of the bredie, so I found these ones online to give you a glimpse of how cool (and beautiful) it is to cook with flowers!

Chef Sybrand and Adina’s recipe pick

The ultimate recipe


Hey foodies,

I am sorry that I have been so quiet with my posts lately!  Life has gotten hectic with work, school, and my new found love for climbing.  I promise to post a new recipe before the week is over, but in the meanwhile, here are some photos of what I’ve been up to outside of the kitchen…

Climbing

ingredients

  • beautiful scenery
  • good weather (anything except raining)
  • gear
  • awesome friends who bring the ropes and quick draws
  • screaming cheers of support
  • guts
  • adrenalin
  • lots of chalk for sweaty hands
  • sun screen
  • sun glasses
  • food in secure tupperware so that lizards don’t steal it
  • lots of water
  • arnica for excessive bruising (which my incredibly bruised legs need badly)
  • lotion for excessive hand scraping
Directions: mix all the ingredients together on a Saturday and have a rockin’ time!

Leading my first route in Silvermine

Paarl

Ty’s first bouldering problem…solved!

At the Taal monument

The view from Rocklands

Team Rocklands

My guru Fede

South African potato and leek soup


The days are shortening; the wind is slowing; the chill is creeping; and the rain is threatening.  Most evenings nowadays seem like perfect evenings for earthy soups, my favorite fuzzy blue blanket draped around me like a cape, the couch, work avoidance, and a TV series marathon instead.

Last year I discovered leeks in my weekly bag of Harvest of Hope veggies, an amazing and empowering initiative driven by women in the Cape Flats who learn to grow and harvest veggies to feed their families and bring beautiful, seasonal, organic, local veggies to our doorsteps.  At first I found leeks to be somewhat flat, leafy, and seemingly unappetizing but as the bushels piled up in my fridge, my curiosity built as well, so I started adding small amounts to my dishes and was pleasantly surprised. They then became one of my favorite accents in stirfrys, eggs, pastas, and soups…

I had been yearning for my leeks all summer and finally, last week, I saw a gigantic bushel at the store and my heart warmed my chilly bones!  I immediately knew exactly what I would make and stocked up on all the ingredients.

South African potato and leek soup (serves 4)

Ingredients 

  • 2 tbl butter
  • 1 onion peeled and quartered
  • 1 heaped tsp garlic
  • 1 bushel leeks chopped
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 300g butternut peeled and cubed (the special South African flare)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • ground salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Melt the butter in a pan and saute the garlic and onions until lightly browned
  2. Add the leeks, white pepper, paprika, salt and some ground pepper and saute until softened and fragrant for about 5 minutes
  3. Add the potatoes, butternut, chicken broth and wine
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes
  5. When the potatoes and butternut have softened, mash up the ingredients and mix in the milk
  6. Blend the soup in a blender and serve with freshly ground pepper and toasted cheesy bread

Mozambican Fish Braai


To celebrate the New Year in 2010, Ty and I went to Mozambique.  Despite getting lost for 3 hours, being forced to drive through mini-lakes with unknown depths, risking our lives on a rickety raft across a wild river, getting stuck in nearly knee-high sludge without airtime, sliding closer and closer to water-filled trenches, and putting up our tent in near hurricane weather, we woke up to cloudless skies and the woes of yesterday forgotten!

We were Queen and King of Pisane Lodge and spent 5 luxurious days lounging around, chatting, frisbeeing, playing rummikub, being looked after by 10 stray dogs who adopted us, soaking up the sun on the beautiful beach, and eating like gods.

One afternoon we spotted a spear fisherman leaving his rowboat with a gigantic catch.  We ran down to the shore and asked him what kind of fish it was and if we could buy it. It was a gorgeous, massive barracuda with shimmery scales and yes, we could buy it for a mere R70, inclusive of scaling, gutting, and de-boning! wow! We proudly walked back to camp, excitedly started up the braai, and prepped the fish with whatever goodies we had in stock.  It was the absolute best fish I’ve ever had and sustained us for 5 meals!

Last month Ty and I started ordering fresh, sustainable, local, seasonable deeeelllllliiiccciiiiiioouuusssss fish from Julie.  She is a SASSI “South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative” participant who delivers the freshest fish straight to your door anywhere in Cape Town. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  We first ordered flawless Norwegian Salmon and proceeded to make the most delectable melt-in-your-mouth salmon sushi rolls for two nights in a row.

Last week we ordered Angelfish and had an amazingly delicious reminiscent Mozambican Fish Braai after an awesome afternoon of rock climbing in Silvermine Nature Reserve with UCT’s Mountain & Ski Club!

Mozambican Fish Braai

Ingredients (serves 2 + leftovers)

  • 400g Angelfish
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 heaped tsp diced garlic
  • 1 julienned red pepper
  • 1 chopped tomato or a handful of halved cherry tomatoes
  • some oil
  • salt & pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 1 cup cheese (of your preference)
  • about 1/4 cup Mrs. Ball’s Chutney

Directions

  1. Prepare the braai
  2. Rub the fish with oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, and place it in a disposable metal deepdish pan
  3. Layer the veggies, spices, cheese, and chutney on top
  4. Cover with tinfoil and cook for 10-15 minutes until the fish is beautifully flaky and the veggies are aldente

Cyril’s Lamb Curry and Tomato Sambal


My love for Indian food developed while growing up in Branford, Connecticut and frequenting Darbar, where my sister and I religiously ordered Chicken Tikka Masala, Basmati Rice, Naan, and Gulab Jamun without question.  So it was not actually Indian food as a whole that I fell in love with but rather this exact meal as an entire food genre in itself. Sadly for my tastebuds, I moved away from Branford when I was a teen but always made it a priority to indulge in memories at Darbar whenever I re-visited.

Luckily over the years, I have stumbled upon a few beautiful diamonds in the rough (the rough being the world beyond Darbar): Curries in Liverpool, England, Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California, Nawab Indian Cuisine in Roanoke, Virginia (if you can believe it!) and Bihari, Eastern Food Bazaar, the Indian Food on UCT Medical Campus, and Cyril’s Curry Cooking Class (talk about alliteration) in Cape Town.  However, I have yet to taste a Chicken Tikka Masala that rivals Darbar’s but will continue my fervent search and hopefully make it back to Darbar one day.

Forever ago I made a conscious decision never to cook my own Chicken Tikka Masala out of fear of creating a dish that was disappointingly inferior.  However, Cyril’s Curry Cooking Class taught me the fine art of making curries and I now feel confident that I could tackle Chicken Tikka Masala should the perfect recipe present itself to me.

Jacquie, my number one cooking partner (besides Ty), and I excitedly signed up for Cyril’s class and every week for one month, Cyril taught us recipes and techniques that his mother taught him, which we will pass on to our children, and our children will pass on to their children, and the tradition will continue.  We brought wine, cooking tools, main ingredients, and enthusiasm.  Cyril provided the expert insight and beautiful homemade spices from his mother and Atlas Trading Company.  At the beginning of the course we were given an in-depth lesson about the botanical origin of Indian spices, the forms, and flavors.  By the end of the course, we had made about a dozen curries, half a dozen salads, breads, rice dishes, and desserts, all of which where absolutely divine, complex, unique, and most importantly, relatively easy to tackle at home without Cyril’s supervision (I hope).

Our messy cooking station

Jacquie, Cyril, and I cookin' curries

Chicken Curry

Out of all the many dishes we cooked, my favorite was the Lamb Curry

Jacquie the Curry Queen

Ingredients (serves 2 + leftovers)

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 roughly chopped onion
  • 2 large tomatoes grated
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • 4 star anise petals – the dried unripened fruit of a Southern Chinese tree that is 13x sweeter than sugar
  • 1 piece of cassia bark – the dried outer bark of a Cassia (Chinese cinnamon) tree
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cloves – the dried unopened flower buds of an evergreen tree and is “the most pungent of all spices”
  • 1 tsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder – a rhizome from the ginger family that is “nature’s most vibrantly colored spice”
  • 2 tbsp curry powder – a western term, non-existant in India, which comprises a mixture of spices such as chillies and turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala – added to the dish at the end of cooking “to add a final touch of aromatics”
  • 1 packet of lamb cut into cubes with bone attached
  • 2 green chillies (optional)

Directions

  1. Add oil to pot, bring to medium heat, and add whole spices (star anise, cassia bark, cloves, and bay leaf). This process is called “tempering” which allows for the spice flavors to release and infuse in to the oil. Once the spices have been tempered you can remove them from your dish or keep them in if you are not fussed.
  2. Add onions and fry in oil until golden brown
  3. Add ginger/garlic paste
  4. Immediately add turmeric followed by curry powder
  5. Add the grated tomatoes
  6. Allow this to braise until oil seeps to the top of the surface and tomatoes are cooked
  7. Gently add in the lamb and the green chillies if you can handle the heat
  8. Add water, reduce heat, and cook for 30 minutes (the longer you cook, the softer and scrumptious the meat)
  9. When you are ready to turn off the plate, stir in the garam masala gently, and garnish with fresh coriander and salt to taste

Serve your Lamb Curry with Tomato Sambal, “a perfect accompaniment to curry dishes”

Butternut Curry and Tomato Sambal

Ingredients (serves 2 + leftovers)

  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 chopped cucumber
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 handful of finely chopped fresh coriander
  • salt to taste

Directions

mix all of the ingredients together, add in the vinegar, and season with a dash salt

Jacqs, Ty, and I dishing up our last supper of Lamb Curry, Ricotta Curry, Fragrant Rice, and Soji

End-of-Block Foodie-Fiesta


The Public Health Master’s program at UCT accommodates working professionals by holding what is called “Block” scheduling, AKA HELL.  For each of your courses, you sit in lectures for 2.5 consecutive days and cover approximately 50% of the course material.  Although this dramatically reduces lecture time for the remainder of the semester and enables working professionals, like myself, to do an MPH while working full-time, it is incredibly non-conducive to learning and is an exhaustive exercise.

This year, Block was even more hellish than usual, because I had two courses back to back, which equated to an entire week of 8:30AM-4:00PM classes. So you can imagine that by Friday my brain was absolutely FRIED. To celebrate the end of Block, Ty and I had a garden party at our house and invited MPHers from my cohort and this year’s new cohort to unwind and get to know one another.

The party was a success – great people, great vibes, great drinks, and great food=the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Everyone brought something to munch on and here are some of the highlights…

I am not such a big fan of cocktails but rather am more of a wine/beer girl, so when I say Whitney’s Pimm’s Cocktails were totally awesome, you know they are worth it.  But beware, they are deliciously deadly!

Ingredients

  • Pimm’s
  • Dry Gin
  • Fresh Lemonade (Which we couldn’t find but carbonated lemonade did the trick)
  • Cucumber
  • Lemon
  • Mint

Instructions

Mix together 1 part Pimm’s, 1 part Gin, and 3-4 parts Lemonade.  Add a few slices of cucumber and lemon, a few leaves of mint, and mash it all together to release the flavors.

Kirsty’s Chocolate Fudge Squares are a delicious traditional South African dessert with smooth chocolate and soft biscuits in every bite.

Ingredients

  • 250g butter
  • 1 packet (500g) icing sugar
  • 40g (100ml) cocoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 packets Marie biscuits

Instructions

Place the butter in a bowl and microwave for about 1 minute until melted.  Sift together the icing sugar and cocoa to remove the lumps and stir into the butter until fully blended.  Beat the eggs and stir into the chocolate mixture. Microwave the mixture, uncovered, for about 2 minutes and stir.  Break up the biscuits and stir into the mixture. Transfer to a small deep dish, smooth with spatula, and allow to cool. Then place the mixture in the fridge to harden and cut into squares.

Kirsty’s Bruschetta, adapted from Jamie Oliver, is a simple yet delicious hor d’oeuvre for a dinner party and was gobbled up within minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 french loaf cut into slices
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lots of chopped garlic
  • 2 finely chopped and seeded tomatoes
  • 1 cup of fresh finely chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 packet of mozzarella thinly sliced

 Instructions

Preheat the oven to 200C.  Spread the sliced bread on a pan.  Mix together the garlic and olive oil and then spread onto the bread. Bake the bread in the oven for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix together the tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper.  When the bread is getting crusty, remove from the oven, spread the tomato mix onto each slice, and top with a slice of mozzarella. Put the bruschetta back into the oven until the cheese has fully melted and serve while still warm.  If you are feeling lazy, you can substitute the tomato-mix for ready-made basil pesto or tomato tapenade.

For my contribution, I made a variety of home-made gourmet Pizzas throughout the evening.  At one point, I had 5 excited girls standing around me asking questions as I built my pizzas, which was a truly blissful moment for me.

I don’t remember where I got this full-proof Pizza Dough recipe but I am completely against buying pre-made bases because of how easy it is to make and the fun-factor of rolling it out to my desired thickness, depending on my mood.

Ingredients (yields 4 big pizzas)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (white, wheat, or a mixture)
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaped tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

Instructions

Combine flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Add the oil and warm water, stir a bit, and then remove from the bowl and go wild kneading the dough with your hands.  No need to wait for the dough to rise.  Roll the dough out, place in a greased pizza pan, and add toppings.  Bake at 180C for about 25 minutes until desired brownness.

I found the Barbeque Chicken Pizza recipe on The Pioneer Woman’s blog, which was modeled from the California Pizza Kitchen version but even better.

Ingredients (for 1 pizza)

  • About 1 cup of rotisserie chicken cut into bite size pieces (or 2 raw chicken breasts)
  • About 1 cup of your favorite barbeque sauce
  • About 1 tbl of honey
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 thinly sliced purple onion
  • 1/2 thinly julienned red pepper
  • a dash of dried basil
  • a dash of salt
  • a handful of chopped coriander

Instructions

Note: You can bake your own chicken directly in BBQ sauce but I used already cooked rotisserie chicken for convenience-sake.

Preheat the oven to about 180C.  In a bowl, mix together the BBQ sauce and honey.  In a separate bowl, mix together the chicken and half the sauce.  Lightly grease your pizza pan, roll out the dough to your desired thickness, and gently place the base in the pan.  Drizzle the remainder of the sauce all over the pizza base, then add a layer of mozzerella cheese, chicken, purple onion, red pepper, and a dash of salt.  Bake the pizza for about 25 minutes or until your desired brownness.  Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle a generous amount of fresh coriander all over the pizza and serve while still hot, or cold because nothin’s better than cold pizza for breakfast.

I also got a few ideas for Mushroom Garlic Pizza from Jamie Oliver and Rachel Ray but created a culmination of the two using my own personal pazazz.

Ingredients (for 1 pizza)

  • 3 tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
  • a dash of red chili flakes
  • a dash of salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 250g assorted mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • a handful of fresh rocket

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180C.  In a pan, mix together the EVO, garlic, chili flakes, salt, and pepper and saute on medium heat for about 3 to release the flavors.  Add the mushrooms and paprika and cook until the mushrooms are brown and tender.  Lightly grease your pizza pan, roll out the dough to your desired thickness, and gently place the base in the pan.  Add a layer of mozzarella, mushrooms, and drizzle the remaining garlic sauce on top (but do not add too much oil or else the pizza will become oily).  Cook for about 25 minutes or until your desired brownness and top with rocket.

My dearest friend Renee introduced the Grape Pizza to me many years ago during University and it completely changed my perception that pizza is strictly a savory meal.  When I visited the US in August, Renee, Kate, and I had a reunion and of course made Grape Pizza and devoured every last piece.

The Grape Pizza Original with Renee and Kate

I wished to spread the love of Grape Pizza internationally, so made it for my garden party guests, and everyone was pleasantly surprised by the unique combination of sweet and  savory flavors that produced an almost dessert-like pizza.

Ingredients (for 1 pizza)

  • 1 cup halved purple seeded grapes
  • 1 small block of gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 small packet of fresh rosemary
  • honey to drizzle
  • A small handful of mozzarella (optional)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Lightly grease a baking sheet or pizza pan, roll out the dough to your desired thickness, and gently place the base in the pan.  Push the grapes gently into the dough facing downward and bake for about 10 minutes.  Pull the pizza out and sprinkle gorgonzola, mozzarella (optional), and rosemary all over the pizza. Lastly, lightly drizzle honey all over.  Place back in the oven for another 10-15 or until desired brownness.

Enjoy!